© Jerome Whittingham lettuce
© Jerome Whittingham

The UK may have been enjoying the best summer since the 1970s, but it has struggled to put salads on the table.

The heatwave has seen UK growers call this a “challenging” summer, with some 90% of lettuce eaten in the UK grown domestically.

To boost supplies, carriers have had to fly in lettuce from overseas. IAG Cargo said yesterday it had seen a spike in deliveries.

Over the weekend, it flew 30,000 heads of iceberg lettuce from Los Angeles to the UK to fill the gap in supplies. Some 18m lettuce heads are bought in the UK during summer, each week.

Growers told the BBC they had looked to Germany to make up the shortfall, but similar conditions there have caused the same problem.

They added that broccoli and cauliflower had also been affected.

“We take the responsibility of shipping lettuce to the UK very seriously.

“Our dedicated ‘Constant Fresh’ product team ensure that lettuce heads arrive promptly and in excellent condition in London Heathrow ready to hit supermarket shelves across the country,” said Camilo Garcia, director of sales, marketing and products at IAG Cargo.

“We will be increasing the Miami route frequency to three times a day as of winter 2018. This is all the more relevant at a time when a national shortage of fresh greens is probable.”

Salad leaves need to be kept at 3°C, according to the British Leafy Salads Association, and needs to be transported in refrigerated vehicles.

British growers have also warned of possible labour shortages following Brexit.

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